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Thread: Ruger Readhawk 4" or 5 1/2" barrel

  1. #1

    Default Ruger Readhawk 4" or 5 1/2" barrel

    Hi All,

    I'm thinking of buying a Ruger Redhawk 44 mag as a backup gun for fishing/camping trips. Which would be the better choice 4" or 5 1/2" barrel? Is there a big difference in recoil and accuracy between the two?

    Any opinions?
    Thanks,
    Anton

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    Default 5 1/2"

    The Ruger Redhawk is a big heavy bulky gun - go ahead and get the 5 1/2" or even the 7 1/2" if you aren't going to be carrying it. Accuracy isn't an issue but heavier gun do kick less.

    If you are going to be carrying it a lot get a S&W 629 - noticeably less weight and bulk. The S&W may lossen up after a few thousand rounds of extremely heavy loads but I take it you are buying the gun to carry - not to shoot an abnormally large number of very heavy rounds.


    Quote Originally Posted by ftaba1 View Post
    Hi All,

    I'm thinking of buying a Ruger Redhawk 44 mag as a backup gun for fishing/camping trips. Which would be the better choice 4" or 5 1/2" barrel? Is there a big difference in recoil and accuracy between the two?

    Any opinions?
    Thanks,
    Anton
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

  3. #3

    Default Redhawk 4" or 5 1/2"

    Thanks for the reply. I actually do plan shooting it a lot to get proficient and Ruger being a heavier gun and thus handling recoil better is the main reason why I'd like to buy a Ruger vs. S&W.

    Unfortunately there is no place that rents gun (I live in Anchorage) otherwise I'd definitely try them both (4" and 5 1/2") before I buy.

    Any other opinions?

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    Default

    No real opinion but if you get out to the valley [Palmer] I've got a RH with 7.5 in. barrel your more than welcome to put some rounds through. Alex

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    Default 4, 5.5, 7.5, 9.5 ???

    Quote Originally Posted by ftaba1 View Post
    I'd definitely try them both (4" and 5 1/2") before I buy.

    Any other opinions?
    Yes, I ALWAYS have other opinions. Opinions to spare.

    Here are a few you might find useful to consider (whether you agree or not and why):

    Longer barrel, more power. Rule of thumb; 50 fps per inch. Your mileage may vary.

    Barrel length will not affect recoil very much because barrel weight per inch is not that much when added onto the rest of the bulk of the gun.

    Balance, when point shooting is another matter from recoil, entirely and is highly personal depending on the gun's center of gravity, grip shape, your hand(s) dimensions etc.

    Grip shape and cushion has much more effect on the tolerability of recoil than the gun's weigh or balance.

    4" barrel can clear the holster a little faster. However, 7.5" is my choice as being more versatile and I shoot capsicum oleoresin (left hand) before lead (right hand).

    Here is a story: I know, second hand of one life-saving incident with a sow and cubs where an inch and a half made the difference. The bear died of a bullet in the brain fired straight down through the top of the skull immediately upon clearing leather, according to the survivor. He testifies that a longer barrel would have had an entirely different outcome. On the other hand, he was walking a trail above a salmon creek videotaping the bears there when confronted with two cubs and a sow. In those same circumstances, I would have 1) been making noise on purpose 2) already have had my weapon(s) unholstered and 3) not had my attention focused on my viewfinder.

    I predict you are not going to shoot really full-power loads 100% of the time. You will do a lot of practice with reduced power loads with just a few ful-power loads to keep your hand in. The S&W will do OK in that kind of service and be kinder to your hip when hiking. Having said that, if weight is a problem, bring two ways to rig your holster. One on your person (hip, shoulder or chest rig) and a holster that fixes to your backpack, frame or harness. Much more tolerable.

    Having defended the S&W, I will tell you that I have owned two S&W in the past, but when I opened up the sideplate and saw all those itty-bitty parts, I traded them off as soon as I could. I like the lockwork of the Dan Wesson and Ruger revolvers much better. Stronger, simpler translates to more reliable in my mind.

    Remember, believe only half of what you see and one quarter of what you hear. That goes double for what you get from the internet.

    All the foregoing opinions are true. They may not be true for you, but they are true for me.

    Happy Thanksgiving

    Lost Sheep

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    Member stevelyn's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ftaba1 View Post
    Thanks for the reply. I actually do plan shooting it a lot to get proficient and Ruger being a heavier gun and thus handling recoil better is the main reason why I'd like to buy a Ruger vs. S&W.

    Unfortunately there is no place that rents gun (I live in Anchorage) otherwise I'd definitely try them both (4" and 5 1/2") before I buy.

    Any other opinions?
    No opinion as I'm trying to make up my mind between the two in the .45 Colt version. I really wish they made the regular Redhawk in .454 Casull.
    Now what ?

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    Default Recoil isn't a big issue with a .44 Mag

    Unless you get an ultralite like the S&W 329 PD recoil usually isn't an issue with the .44 Mag round. It a rare shooter that ever fires a .44 mag enough to loosen it up with factory level loads. Learning to handle the recoil of a .44 Mag. in standard weight gun isn't that difficult.

    Weight and bulk is an issue- the Rugers Redhawks are heavy bulky guns. The S&W is much nicer to carry being ligher and more trim. Unless you grossly abuse it a S&W 629 will outlast you by several life times. The lockwork is not as large as a Ruger but it is proven in millions of guns for the past hundred years to so

    Quote Originally Posted by ftaba1 View Post
    Thanks for the reply. I actually do plan shooting it a lot to get proficient and Ruger being a heavier gun and thus handling recoil better is the main reason why I'd like to buy a Ruger vs. S&W.

    Unfortunately there is no place that rents gun (I live in Anchorage) otherwise I'd definitely try them both (4" and 5 1/2") before I buy.

    Any other opinions?
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
    ".. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" JFK

  8. #8

    Default Ruger vs. S&W

    Well, S&W 629 with 5" barrell weighs 45.5 oz, while Ruger RW 5 1/2" weight 49 oz. Not that much difference in my book, they both are pretty heavy. So is your preference based solely on the weight or are there any other substantial differences between Ruger and S&W?

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Default

    Biggest difference between brands is price you can realy buy the gun for.To me the S&W looks better but the Ruger is stronger. I've had both and liked both and will say my Smiths were the older style with not as strong of a lock up as they have today. Both companies have put it to the American gunner in the past but the fact is they are both still the best in the big gun market if going D/A.

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    Default RH vs SRH

    Quote Originally Posted by stevelyn View Post
    ... I really wish they made the regular Redhawk in .454 Casull.
    Maybe they do. Maybe. I am told you can (if you take care that the ammunition will ONLY be fired in your Ruger Redhawk or Super Redhawk chambered for 45 Colt or other very strong firearms like the Thompson Contender, etc.) load the .45 Colt cartridge to 44 magnum energies, even approaching .454 Casull levels. I would not do it, but "they" have said I could.

    I have a Redhawk in .44 Magnum and a Super Redhawk in .454 Casull and 44 Mag. They all fit in the same holster (one at a time). The SRHs are barely discernable as a tighter fit. They are all 7.5".

    If you don't mind spending some money, you can have the .454 SRH lightened quite a bit. Wild West Guns in Anchorage does a "Wolverine" modification and they will even machine the extractor so you can shoot .45ACP with moon clips (and still shoot 454 Casull and 45 Colt normally). Not my cup of tea, but it is available if yo want it.

    The lockwork and the grip frame/post of the SRH is the same as the GP100. The standard Redhawk has a different lockwork and a full grip frame. The differences in the lockwork does not seem to make any difference to the casual user, though. The grip post on the SRH does allow a bit more freedom for the grips' designers for shape, size and cushioning.

    Food for thought.

    Lost Sheep

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lost Sheep View Post
    Yes, I ALWAYS have other opinions. Opinions to spare.

    Barrel length will not affect recoil very much because barrel weight per inch is not that much when added onto the rest of the bulk of the gun.

    4" barrel can clear the holster a little faster.

    I predict you are not going to shoot really full-power loads 100% of the time.
    JOAT:
    I always appreciate your opinions, and some of'em have been a great help to me in the past, but I've got some of my own, that differ from some of yours.

    I've found that handgun barrel length does effect recoil, inasmuch as HOW it recoils. Even my 3" barreled 38 special is easier to handle than a snub-nosed one of the same general size, weight and design. I don't think that weight is the only issue in recoil, or ones ability to deal with it.

    I'm also, VERY skeptical that a 4" barrel will clear the holster enough faster than a 5.5" barrel to make any real difference, in any encounter with a bear or other circumstance, OR that speed of draw, is often an issue either.

    IMO, one should practice with loads that are, at least similar, in recoil to the ones for field use. I don't use "full power", or the hottest possible loads in my 44 ANYTIME. I do have heavier bullet loads for field use.

    Like tvfinak said,,,, "Recoil isn't a big issue with a .44 Mag." With the right handgun, heavy enough, with a barrel of suitable length, it'll be OK. I would consider, given my level of training, that 4" would be an absolute minimum length.

    I wouldn't even own a handgun as powerful as a 44 Mag. and then compromise it with a short barrel. My choice would be the 5.5" barrel length, because I'm sure it would be more pleasant to shoot, easier to point, and more accurate for me.

    I just feel that the reasons given for short barrels on powerful handguns, are often nebulous ones.

    Smitty of the North
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    Default You are welcome

    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    JOAT:
    I always appreciate your opinions, and some of'em have been a great help to me in the past, but I've got some of my own, that differ from some of yours.
    Thanks for the words of appreciation. I will point out that I ended my post with this, "All the foregoing opinions are true. They may not be true for you, but they are true for me."
    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    I'm also, VERY skeptical that a 4" barrel will clear the holster enough faster than a 5.5" barrel to make any real difference, in any encounter with a bear or other circumstance, OR that speed of draw, is often an issue either.
    The story of the life-saving effect of the speed of presentation against that one bear was told to me by a guy who knows the person to whom it happened. I would not DEPEND on a fast draw myself, but acknowledge that some do value that fractional second. For me, it has no value. For the originator of this thread (ftaba1) it apparanly does.
    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    IMO, one should practice with loads that are, at least similar, in recoil to the ones for field use. I don't use "full power", or the hottest possible loads in my 44 ANYTIME. I do have heavier bullet loads for field use.
    Here is where you and I differ. I use light loads for 90% of my practice. I figure when and if I NEED to shoot, I will not notice the recoil. Besides, no one ever flinches on the FIRST shot, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    I wouldn't even own a handgun as powerful as a 44 Mag. and then compromise it with a short barrel. My choice would be the 5.5" barrel length, because I'm sure it would be more pleasant to shoot, easier to point, and more accurate for me.

    I just feel that the reasons given for short barrels on powerful handguns, are often nebulous ones.
    I agree. The questionable validity of the benefits of the short barrels are why I choose 7.5" barrels. Having a barrel (e.g. Ruger SRH Alaskan) just barely longer than the cartridge seems like such a waste of cartridge volume even if that waste might be mitigated by use of an appropriate powder.

    Thanks for your input.

    Lost Sheep.

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    My two cents are for which ever points better for you. I am a believer that pistols are "pointers" versus "aimers" when it comes to fast defensive shooting. If a pistol will not point for you it is worthless in a defensive fight, IMHO. Pistol drawing and shooting must be ruled by muscle memory and reflex. One of my favorite examples of this occurred at a range many years ago. A couple of my friends got tired of my ribbing them on their “skills.” So they challenged me to a contest on who could hit a small steel target at a range of 125 yards, two shots each. This was on the small caliber rifle range. Now for me that range is far out of my ability, especially since we agreed to use my friends 357 blackhawk, which I had never shot. I was slated to shot last. The best of their shots were no closer than 20 feet from the target. They had tried to aim and take their time. I simulated a draw and shot as fast as I could cock the hammer and squeeze the trigger. The first “ding” came just before the second squeeze, which resulted in another “ding.” I then handed the pistol back and walked away. As I turned my back I was grinning from ear to ear. There was no way I could have hit those targets if I had spent much time aiming and thinking about it. Was it luck? I think yes and no. At the time I spent close to 6-8 hours a week at the range and I did hit both, so that pushes the luck factor awfully high. I never told them that it was luck/muscle memory/reflexive shooting. I just walked away letting them think I was “Hondo” in my friend’s words. BTW my wife witnessed this and laughed at those two all the way back to town. God bless her heart, she thought I was that good as well. Long story, but my point is that defensive shooting comes down to pointing/practice/muscle memory/reflex, so get the pistol that points for you and you have a good foundation for the rest. Then practice, practice and practice some more.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    You could chamber and shoot the 454 in the old 45 redhawks and I think thats why they quit makeing them.You could also chamber the 454 in the Smith mod.25 but to pull the trigger was unwise.
    Just watched the Cowboys on the shooting channel.A 71/2" barrel gun came in second place for their national fast draw championship,the man said he just wanted to try it for a year and see how he could do.

  15. #15

    Default

    Thanks to all for your replies. I don't want to go over 5 1/2" in barrel length because it becomes somewhat cumbersome to carry. I shot my friend's S&W 629 in 6" and would rather prefer something shorter. Especially if I do ever have to use it, it'll probably be at a very close range and the improved accuracy that the longer barrel provides isn't going to be important.

    I'll try to test both Rugers in 4" and 5 1/2" before I buy though.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    I too prefer shorter barrels on everything rifles,shotguns and pistols,even have a short bow

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    Lost Sheep:
    Like you say, whatever works for you is the way to go for you.

    I also have a concern with how long it will take to 'recover' after the first shot. That's why I don't even use Maximum loads.

    I'm not gonna say that light loads are of no value for practice. I practice with loads that are comfortable to shoot, but they're more like medium loads. So are my heavy bullet loads.

    I got my S&W Mdl 29` 6" at a gun show. I was looking at the Ruger RH too. I just happened to end up with the S&W. I'm not that knowledgeable as to which is the better gun, but I'm happy with the older model S&W.

    Smitty of the North
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    Thumbs up recoil, recovery, 2nd shot.

    Smitty ....

    I've had several of my hunting rifles Magnaported, And it allows me to get back on target much faster - muzzle jump is virtually eliminated - can spot my shots thru my scope.

    I have a S&W M329PD, which recently returned from being Magnaported, the first handgun I've had done. And the result is just what I'd expected. Virtually no muzzle jump. Back on target fast. Double action is now very practical and controllable.

    So, if you are concerned that you want to be able to get off fast, repeated, aimed shots, Magnaporting makes it practical. IMHO, the recoil is unaffected, much more linear, and is of no concern to me. I'm now practicing double action as a "two stage" trigger pull - pull trigger until the cylinder is stopped, and then squeeze off the round, with sights carefully aligned. Prior to MPing, single action was as fast getting back on target. Not even close now.

    I also have a S&W M396 Mountain Lite .44 Special (18 ounces) that has been my woods/carry handgun for about 10 years. Buffalo Bore Heavy 44 Specials - 255 gr gas checks at 975 fps in my barrel. It's a handful, but I'm used to it. I'm sending it to Magnaport. My wife wants to take it over.

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    Anton,

    I have a RH .44 with the 5-1/2" barrel. I love it. I think you'll find many believe the 5-1/2" barrel is a great compromise between carry size and adequate sight radius for shooting accurately.

    I'd say you need to decide whether you want to only shoot at short distances or also at longer distances. This could be at targets or perhaps hunting with the revolver. Your initial comment said this would be a "backup gun".

    If you are ONLY going to carry the gun for personal defense, then the 4" barrel would probably work well. If you have inclinations to shoot at targets/animals 50 yards and beyond, then you'd probably appreciate the additional barrel length.....assuming you'll be shooting iron sights.

    I like the balance of my RH. You're on the right track in trying to shoot revolvers with both barrel lengths to see how they feel. Good luck!

    Mike

  20. #20

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    Thanks for reply, Mike. It is nice to hear from somebody who actually has this gun and shoots it. I've never considered hunting with the revolver before. Now that you mentioned it... what animals do you hunt with it? I was primarily considering a Ruger as a backup gun when bow hunting, fishing and camping. That's why I was looking at RH 4" or 5 1/2". Have you shot a 4" one? If yes, is it much different from 5 1/2"?

    Anton

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